After returning from Pensacola, for the next several weeks I was a hermit. During the week; school, work, homework, sleep. Weekends I rarely left the house. My friends would invite me out, but I was not in the mood to meet men, I did not trust them. I told myself over and over Martin was not the man for me, he had broken my heart one too many times. I still longed for our 11:00 p.m. phone calls. What I missed most, Martin had become for a time my best friend, I could talk to him about anything. Before I fell in love, when a man broke my heart Martin would be the person I would talk to. So who did I have to talk to about him?
To help me get out of this funk, I went to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Virginia Beach. Saturday afternoon I stayed behind at their apartment as they ran to the grocery store. My brother-in-law graduated from the Naval Academy in 1980. As I sat in the living room I noticed his college yearbook, The Lucky Bag. I opened the book in search of 9th company, class of 1983. Success, I found Martin's photo. I stared at his photo for a moment, then without reason I searched for Bobby's photo. As I turned the page, I did not need to search the names, I recognized his smile and eyes right away. There he was 24th company class of 1983. He had not changed much since 1980. I sat there, smiled and stared at his photo for several minutes not really understanding why.
School and gymnastics were keeping me extremely busy. I was struggling but I was getting by. February was moving by much too quickly. I was dreading March. Months earlier I had booked and paid for a condo in Pensacola for spring break. Anita, her friend Debbie and I were going to share a condo on the gulf. When I booked the condo, I had envisioned a wonderful week in the sun, relaxing by the ocean with Martin. Now I wanted nothing to do with spring break, nothing to do with Pensacola. I had tried unsuccessfully since I had returned from Florida in January to get some one to take my place during spring break.
The beginning of March I told Anita and Debbie I didn't think I would be able to go to Pensacola. I didn't have the strength in me to run into Martin, or even worse to see him with another woman. They were not happy but they understood. Later that week Anita called very excited, she had learned Martin was no longer in Pensacola, he was in Texas. She assured me I didn't have to worry about running into him. I was still hesitate about going, but after much begging and pleading I finally gave in. I was tired of tears, I longed to relax and get back to the old fun loving me. I thought maybe a week relaxing at the beach, listening to the ocean was what I needed to shake this depression of mine.
As we were driving down to Florida mixed emotions came over me. Part of me wanted to turn the car around, tell Anita I made a mistake, the other part was excited to be heading to the spring break. As I drove I kept telling myself I was being paranoid. everything would be fine. When we arrived in Perdido Keys we stopped at the realtor, picked up the keys and directions to our condo. I looked at the map and realized our condo was much closer to Martin's place then I previously thought. As we drove by his house, I took a deep breath, reminded myself he was in Texas, I needed to relax and try to have fun. The condo was beautiful, it sat right on the gulf. The complex was full of college students ready for some fun and sun at the beach. Since I had booked the condo, made all the arrangements, I had first choice of the three bedrooms. I took the bedroom that connected to the deck. It had a beautiful view of the gulf. As I unpacked I opened the door so I could feel the breeze from the gulf, hear the waves as they crashed on the beach. The first night, as I fell asleep listening to gulf, I thought to myself maybe this is exactly what I need.
The first few days of spring break were spent laying out on the beach. Nights I would relax at the condo, watch TV, leave the french doors to the deck open so I could feel the breeze, hear the gulf. Every afternoon Debbie and Anita would leave for a few hours, then be back for dinner. At night they headed out to find the local parties or bars. Usually about midnight they would return with a crowd in tow and a case of beer in hand. Drinking games would commence. I would play the games for a while. Instead of beer I drank soda. As the crowd dwindled I would head to my room for the night. I was happy my room had a private bath attached, I never had to worry about running into a stranger in the morning. By Wednesday, the gulf was beginning to work it's magic, the fog on my brain was beginning to lift and I was starting to feel like the old me. Feeling better I went with Anita and Debbie to downtown Pensacola for a few hours that night. It was very uneventful evening for me. I spent most of the night talking to the bartender. I was a bit of a snob, I avoided conversations with anyone who looked like they might be in the Navy, pretty much the majority of the bar. During the course of our conversation the bartender told me about a dance club that was the place to go on a Thursday night. The bonus, he would be working there the next night and would hook my friends and I up with free drinks.
I am still not sure why but Thursday morning I woke up in a great mood. For some strange reason all day I was looking forward to heading to the dance club later. It was as if I knew something fantastic awaited me. As I laid out in the sun I debated what I should wear that evening. I came in early from the beach so I would have extra time to get ready. I don't know why but I wanted to look perfect. I found myself singing along with the radio as we headed into Pensacola. When we arrived at the club, I found myself a seat at the bar. I introduced Anita and Debbie to the bartender from the night before. When the next song began to play, Debbie and Anita headed to the dance floor. I stayed behind at the bar drinking ginger ale and talking with the bartender. I am not sure how long I had been sitting there when I heard a voice whisper in my ear, "I almost didn't recognize you with your clothes on."
I turned around quickly, ready to say some smart ass remark, when I saw his boyish grin and beautiful brown eyes staring at me. Immediately I covered my smile with my hand, once again said, "Oh my God....Bobby!"
I watched as Bobby's smile got bigger, "Most people just say hello."
I have no clue why but in that instance I was so happy and relieved to see him. I jumped off my bar stool and gave him a big hug. As I hugged him, I am almost embarrassed to admit I loved the way he smelled. Many years later I would pay anything to be able to sense his smell one more time, wrap it around me for a little while. For the first time since "running into" him in San Diego, Bobby and I started to talk, have a quiet, real conversation. He asked me about Martin. He was glad to see me smiling again. He had been worried about me. He confessed, back in January, he was so concerned he came back outside to the parking lot to search for me, make sure I was okay, but I was gone. He asked if I found the note he left for me at Martin's. Doing my best to avoid what happened in January I didn't answer and quickly changed the topic.
I was surprised at how easy Bobby was to talk to, the conversation flowed between the two of us. I loved the fact while we talked he made eye contact with me and held it. I told him I was puzzled how he knew my name when we first met in Coronado. He confessed he knew who I was from his senior year at the Academy. He had seen me at a lacrosse game. He saw me in the stands talking to a girlfriend of one of his buddies. He asked him who I was. He said he tried to get my attention but I was busy talking with a bunch of people. Then his buddy informed him I had a boyfriend. When I told him I thought he was full of it, pulling my leg. He began to described what I was wearing that day, what game it was and who I was talking to. I had only attended one lacrosse game that year, he nailed it, he knew everything perfectly. He even remembered I was on crutches. I was shocked and extremely flattered. As he was telling me all the details he remembered from the lacrosse game, I kept looking at his eyes thinking how the heck did I miss him? How did I not notice him looking at me? How did I not feel him, looking back, remembering, did I?
When the DJ announced he was slowing the music down, the conversation stopped, there was awkward pause. As Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl Like You" began to play, Bobby put his hand out, asked "May I?" I shook my head yes and placed my hand in his. We walked hand and hand to the dance floor. I was happy, excited, anxious, scared, nervous, terrified, every emotion was racing through my body.
When we reached the middle of the dance floor he pulled me in close to him and we began to swayed slowly with the music. His body felt so warm next to mine. As I rested my head on his chest I could feel his heart beating. My heart was pounding so hard I wondered if he could feel mine as well? I felt so safe in his arms, it seemed so perfect, so natural, where I belonged. I felt his hand run through my hair, gently pushing it away from my face. I looked up, our eyes met, he softly said, "I have wanted to kiss you since the first time I saw you."
I whispered, "Me too."
With that we stopped dancing and began to kiss. If I live to be a hundred I still would not be able to describe how perfect that first kiss was. If I tried to explain it, I would ruin the purity of it. When the kiss ended, we leaned our foreheads against each other. I put my fingers on his lips, he kissed them, then smiled. He whispered "Now that was an Oh my God." I was barely able to whisper, "Yes"
He put his hand on my cheek and we began to kiss again. We were lost in the kiss when I felt Anita smack me on my butt, at the same time she yelled loudly, "Way to go Dinker!" Stunned and embarrassed I pulled away from Bobby. It was then that we both realized the first song had long ended and another song had begun, a faster song. We smiled at each other, almost chuckling. Without saying a word, he grabbed my hand, kissed it, then lead us back to the bar. When we arrived, as we stood there, I was amazed, he did not let go of my hand. I smiled at him, he winked back. My hand in his felt 'right'. We stood there holding hands, smiling at each other, not saying a word, simply staring in each other's eyes for several minutes. Anita interrupted our 'silence', she and Debbie wanted to head back to the condo. The two of us were told we needed to finish our drinks and follow along. I started laughing, Bobby asked what was so funny. I told him I drove, they weren't going any where, we could take as long as we wanted. He asked if he could see my keys. Puzzled I told him I had nothing to drink I was fine. He insisted on seeing my keys, to keep him happy I opened my purse and handed him my keys. He called Anita over and asked her how much she had to drink, she answered one beer. He tossed her my keys and said we will meet you at the condo later.
After hanging out at the bar for a bit longer we headed to the condo. When we arrived Bobby kissed me then asked if he could come up for awhile. I said of course. I was a bit surprised we beat Debbie and Anita back. I was not worried, I imagined they stopped off at a liquor store, or maybe they had to drop someone off on the way home. I was happy to be alone with Bobby, grateful they were late. As I had done every night before, I grabbed a coke and headed to the deck. Bobby grabbed a beer from the fridge and followed. I was too nervous to sit, so I leaned against the railing looking out over the gulf, he stood next to me. Every few minutes the wind would blow a few pieces of my hair in my face, he would reach over and push them back behind my ear. Every time his hand would lightly brush my face I would could feel goose bumps cover me. I could tell he wanted to kiss me again, we were both nervous, looking in his eyes I knew he wanted me and I was nervous and afraid to let him in. We had been talking for several minutes when we both heard Debbie and Anita arrive. For some reason instead of them heading to their rooms with their dates for the night, or hanging out in the empty living room, they all grabbed a beer and headed to the deck to join us. Everyone was laughing and enjoying great conversation feeling the ocean breeze and listening to the waves crash on shore. I was shocked when Bobby looked at my 'roomies' and asked them how much longer they were going to be hanging out on the deck because he really wanted to be alone with me. Anita very bluntly stated, "You don't have to wait for us to leave, if you want privacy the door to her bedroom is right there behind you, use it" I was about to scold Anita when Bobby quickly said thank you, grabbed my hand and pulled me into the room.
From inside the room, I could hear everyone do their own version of a cat call or woo hoo. I was somewhat embarrassed but at the same time I was happy to be alone with Bobby.
As he shut the door, pulled me in to kiss him, I asked, "You don't actually think you are going to get lucky?"
He didn't answer, instead he kissed me again, slowly he began to move us toward my bed. I stopped mid kiss, "I am not ready, I can't, not now"
He whispered in my ear, "Yes now" then he began to kiss my neck. I suddenly pulled away. He saw the look in my eyes and asked what was wrong. For the first time in my life I was honest with a man, I told him everything that had happened in January. I told him since the moment I saw him, I wanted him but I was damaged goods. I wasn't sure if I was ready yet, I didn't trust men right now. I was scared of men. Mostly I was afraid of how he made me feel. I trusted him with too much, I had never done that before. I knew I couldn't handle being with him one night and then have him leave me. I couldn't be a notch on his belt. I needed more. I couldn't tell him what I was feeling, I knew if we were together I could never survive losing him. For a split second, when he pulled back, pushed my hair away from my face, wiped the tears from my eyes, then kissed me on my forehead, I was certain he was going to leave, say goodbye. I was ready to shoot myself for being stupid saying too much. Instead I felt his hands slide down my arms until they were both in my hands. He squeezed my hands, then he said very honestly, "I don't want to push you. If you don't want to do anything it's fine, I understand. You tell me what you need. But I have wanted you for a very long time and I would really like to see where this leads. You drive me crazy, your kiss drives me crazy. I do want you badly. Please trust me."
Then he leaned his forehead against mine. That is when like a fool I whispered, "Promise me you will try not hurt me. Please don't' leave me, my heart can't take it."
He kissed me, as we fell onto the bed he rolled us so he was laying on top of me, he looked me in the eyes and whispered "I promise." Then we began to kiss again. He stared in my eyes, asked me one last time, "Are you sure?" I nodded my head, whispered, "I need you!"
Yes that night, I met a man at a bar, let him take me home and spent the night with him. Every time I hear Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run or Jungleland I am taken back to our magical night in Pensacola. I have no regrets, it is a night I wish I could repeat over and over. It was the most wonderful night I have ever spent with a man. Bobby was gentle, passionate, sweet, caring, he was simply incredible. He was tender and taught me to trust again. He wiped my tears away and replaced them with laughter. Bobby 'educated' me on a lot that night. In fact, as I write this I have a huge smile on my face remembering him, reminiscing over all that we did, everything we talked about. I was finally able to let go and truly be with a man, unafraid.
Between 'times', we would laugh, talk about our families, our dreams, we did everything but sleep that night. When daybreak was approaching he asked me to get dressed, he wanted to sit out on the deck, watch the sunlight appear over the gulf. Bobby wanted a perfect ending to a wonderful night. We sat there in silence holding hands, both of us exhausted, but content. Sitting together, holding hands, listening to Springsteen echo softly from the bedroom, life seemed it was the way it was always meant to be. After a few minutes, Bobby broke the silence, with a little chuckle. I asked him what was so funny. He thought it was very ironic that the first two times we met I was in a robe. When he had told me one day there would be no robe, my reply was keep dreaming. Tonight at one point we were in the shower, there was no robe, before, during or after. He kept chuckling, winked at me, then added "I told you so!"
I tried hard to argue with him, tell him there was no way he saw this, he was only flirting with me back then. He was simply teasing me at the time, tonight was a coincidence. He smiled, very assured he replied, "Keep telling yourself that but I know differently. I have always known!"
When the daylight began to shimmer across the gulf, Bobby gave me a long hug, then kissed me goodnight. He needed to head home, change, then head to flight school. He brushed my rumpled hair out of my face, told me I looked even more beautiful natural, then stared deep in my eyes and asked if I was okay. I assured him yes. He promised he would stop by on his way home that afternoon to see me. After Bobby left, I was too excited to sleep, so I took another shower, made myself breakfast. I sat on the deck for awhile, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face, the breeze in my hair, closing my eyes and reliving ever wonderful moment I had with Bobby. Later I put on my bathing suit and crashed on the beach. It was a beautiful sunny day. I slept peacefully on the beach, dreaming of Bobby. I was awoken six hours later when he gently kissed my neck.
I smiled, then opened my eyes. I heard him say, "Ouch beautiful, how long have you been out here?" My answer since 9 a.m, he informed me it was after 3 p.m. My back was severely sunburned. He helped me stand up. I was amazed at how gorgeous he looked in his uniform. He was so handsome I had to catch my breath when it registered in my brain he was there for me. It was not a dream, I had been with him the night before. Bobby helped me gather my things, carried them back to the condo. As he put lotion on my back he would gently kiss it. He said numerous times he was sorry I was so sun burnt. He apologized for not getting to the beach sooner he ran into trouble at flight school. When I asked what, he told me not to worry about it. After he helped me change, he kissed me goodbye. He needed to head home, take a nap. He wanted to stay and have fun but I had worn him out. He needed to rest if he was going to be ready for tonight, round two. He winked as he told me this, then laughed when I blushed. We were going to meet later at a party down the street. I couldn't wait to be with him again. I felt like I was the luckiest girl in the world, for a time I was in heaven!
Sadly, at the party, I learned friends can be the cruelest enemies of all. Debbie and Anita had talked about the party all week. I was so happy and excited to be seeing Bobby again. I was so excited I could hardly eat. I borrowed an outfit from Debbie so I would look amazing for him. I was hoping for another magical night before heading home. When I left the condo I felt great, I knew I looked good! Every thing seemed right. I thought I was ready for the night ahead of me, unfortunately I was not prepared for who I saw when I walked into the party. I walked through the crowded front yard, entered through the front door, standing there, staring at me was Martin. It seemed as if he knew I was coming, he was awaiting my arrival. Instantly I felt my heart drop to the floor, panic took over my body. I went from being the happiest I had been in months to sheer shock. Bobby was heading to the party, what was I going to do? I tried to avoid Martin, head into another room, but he followed me. He grabbed my hand and pulled me to the side of the room. Almost stunned he asked me what was I thinking, Bobby was his friend. My being with Bobby hurt him more than anything or anybody ever had. No one had ever hurt him as much as I had. He wasn't lying, I could see the pain in his eyes. It was the same hurt I had when he cheated on me. I told him I was sorry, we weren't dating anymore. I honestly didn't think Bobby was that close a friend. After all I had never met him the entire time I was with Martin. I asked him how did he know about Bobby and I, did Bobby say something? He said no, Anita told him that afternoon when she came down to his house to visit. I had been stabbed in the back by a friend. Everything fell into place, before that moment I had never given any thought as to what Anita and Debbie were doing each afternoon or evening when they left. Now I knew they were hanging out at Martin and Matts house. When Martin and I first started dating, I thought it was odd one of his friends told me to be careful about Anita. I had no idea what he meant until then. She lied to me, she knew Martin was still in Pensacola. She had seen him, talked to him. She knew he was going to be at the party. Apparently she couldn't wait to tell Martin about my tryst with Bobby. My so called friend let me walk into a nightmare. She had taken me to a party to watch my total devastation. My life once again was in turmoil. Martin and I argued, he pleaded, I cried. Even though Martin had hurt me numerous times before, the last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt him, cause him pain, by looking in his eyes I knew I had done that. I was filled with guilt.
Bobby was entering the house as I was running out, crying. He grabbed my arm, tried to stop me. I pulled away, told him please let me go, I was not good for him or anyone. I am not sure what happened inside the house, but a few minutes later Bobby was running up the road chasing after me, calling my name. The two of us spent the night on the beach, I bared my soul to him once more and he listened. The night before had been filled passion, desire, lust, this night was filled with conversation, guilt and tears. I was upset with myself, I was so confused. I was certain I would bring nothing but pain and grief into Bobby's life. Tonight was proof of it. Bobby sat there, held me and listened. He tried to convince me I was wrong. He could handle anything, anyone, I had to trust him. He wanted me that was all that should matter. I continuted to talk, to cry. He continued to hold me and listen. At one point he went inside grabbed a coke and a box of Kleenex for me. I remember thinking to myself, wow he is even holding my disgusting used Kleenex he really is a nice guy. When he came back from using the bathroom, instead of sitting next to me, he sat down behind me, straddling his legs around me. Hugging me from behind, he pulled me in close, kissed the back of my head, then told me he did not mean to cause me this much pain. I leaned back into him, told him I had never been this confused. I had never wanted anyone more than him but something inside of me told me it was never meant to be, at least not now. He wrapped his arms and legs around me, held me tight and I began to cry harder. He whispered several times, "I promised, trust me, I will always be here for you." After crying for a while, I took a deep breath, told him I was sorry but I couldn't do this, not now. Last night I wanted more, after tonight I didn't know what I wanted. I needed to think, figure it all out in my head. I couldn't handle the guilt I was feeling. I couldn't handle what happened in January. I couldn't handle leaving him. I had never hurt this much before and I was afraid of everything. Mostly I was afraid of feeling. I was heading back to Maryland, he was in flight school, I didn't have the strength in me for anything long distance. He reluctantly agreed, he understood, then added he would be patient, one day he still wanted to see where 'it' might lead, he always had. He wasn't giving up on me. He wanted to know if there was anything he could do or say to change my mind before I headed home? I kissed him on the lips, smiled through my tears and told him I was sorry, maybe in the future, but not now.
Bobby helped me up, then together, hand in hand, we walked back to the condo. He asked if I was going to be okay staying there with Debbie and Anita. I was welcome to crash at his place. He would even sleep on the couch if that is what I wanted. He wanted me to feel safe. I told him I would be fine. He kissed me softly on my lips, wiped the tears from my eyes, smiled, then told me, "When you are ready, let me know. I will be here waiting." He hugged me for a few minutes, I could tell he did not want to let go. As he held me he said over and over, "I am sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you." I said goodnight at the doorway to my bedroom. It was hard letting go, saying good bye, part of me wanted to be with him, feel him inside me again. Have him hold me while I slept. I wouldn't let him, I was too scared of all the emotions rushing through me. I wasn't sure what I was feeling. I collapsed on the bed. A few minutes later I could hear Bobby yelling at Debbie and Anita outside the condo as they returned from the party. I laughed through my tears when he said to them "If I was Denise I would leave your ass down here and make you walk home." As I listened to him stand up for me, yell at my 'friends' I feared I had made the worst decision of my life telling him to leave. I wanted to get out of bed, beg him to come back, but I was frozen in fear, encompassed by guilt. I was confused and hurting. I laid there afraid of everything I was feeling. I fell asleep crying, hurt and wanting Bobby.
The next day we loaded up the car and headed home. It was the longest, quietest 17 hour drive I have ever made. When I arrived home, I was convinced I would never see Bobby again. I honestly was not sure if that was good or bad. All I knew was I missed him the moment he kissed me goodbye. I missed him more than I had ever missed anyone before. I felt empty without him. I asked God why did Bobby have to be a friend of Martin's? Why was something so perfect so wrong? I was angry with myself for being so weak. I felt so incredibly lost without Bobby and once again depression set in.
(hit the link to the left to continue to part 3)